Halloween is right around the corner.
Many youngsters dabble in devilish behavior this time of year, and often animals are the targets of their pranks.
But what kids think is a "treat" is often a cruel trick for a dog or cat.
Here are some tips to help keep your animals safe on Halloween:
- Most importantly, keep animals inside. For cats, especially black cats who have unfairly been associated with "evil forces," the days leading up to Halloween can be dark indeed as pranksters often go on the prowl for roaming kittens. In fact, many animal shelters refuse to adopt out black cats the entire month of October. "Nobody gets a black cat during the month of October if they ask for one," one shelter worker said, "no matter how nice they are."
Dogs should be kept indoors, too. Some kids think letting dogs out of their yards on Halloween is a great trick, but it's a terrifying experience for the dog who, running from the noise and strangely-dressed people, become lost. Dogs may also become injured if kids poke at them through fences or pelt them with eggs.
- Put animals in a secure room during trick-or-treating time. Cats can quickly slip out the front door, and dogs sometimes try to bite unsuspecting kids, thinking they're intruders. For everyone's safety, its best to keep animals inside a bedroom or family room, away from all the commotion.
- Don't take dogs on trick-or-treating trips, when most kids are more interested in collecting candy than watching Fido. Dogs can easily become frightened by the endless stream of laughing and screaming children and run off or bite someone.
- Keep bowls of candy out of animals' reach, and make sure kids now not to share their goodies with four-legged friends. All candy can cause animals to become sick, and chocolate, which contains an ingredient poisonous to dogs, can kill.
- Party smartly. Jack-o-lanterns lit up by candles are appropriately spooky, but they can burn animals (and children) or start fires if tipped over. The ink used in some brightly colored decorations, like orange streamers and paper pumpkins, is toxic to animals, and swallowed balloons or party favors can block an animal's digestive tract.
- Remember that animals aren't party props. Fido may look cute wearing a witch's hat, but many animals become upset if forced into clothing. Costumes that are kept in place with tight rubber bands can cut of circulation. And while some party-planners think it's frightful fun to have a black cat jump out of a closet at guests, the frightened cat (and guest) probably won't agree.
By taking a few simple precautions, everyone - humans and animals alike - can have a safe and happy Halloween.